I'm on the train writing this. Strangers with lives unknown, what they lead is unknown. In a new city, that is not so new to me. I grew up here in Sydney, but never had the chance to explore. With new, older eyes, I see it like never before.
We moved from Brisbane, to Townsville, to Sydney all in the matter of a few months, maybe less. I'm a talented runner. Running from what is real is something I do quite well. Feeling that sometimes I'm running toward a false hope. Confusion was the theme for the beginning of the year. Where to go, what to do. A multitude of sleepless nights and days began to tie together.
Everything was new and exciting, but my mind struggled when distraction wasn't near. I was staying between my grandma's, my best friends place and just down the road at Raph's aunties place in the city. It was liberating, but at the same time a lost feeling. Raph was still in Townsville unsure of when to begin the drive down and almost everything was up in the air. Nothing was settled. In those times, life can be raw and real. Eventually Raph began his journey to sydney. At the time a cyclone was forming off the coast of northern queensland. It was dangerous and we spent each hour calling each other to update one another. He didn't know whether to stay the night where he had stopped or if he had to try and get infront of the cyclone. If he stayed, he would be stuck. For days, or even more than a week. We didn't know what the cyclone would bring. After hours of debating and calling for advice from family, he left and beat it. The next day, he surprised me, showing up at the front door at midnight. Completely exhausted. We sat under the night sky, lit by the city in disbelief that he was there. It didn't feel real. I hadn't seen him for over a month.
A week later I saw that Angus & Julia Stone and The Cat Empire were playing for free. I went along with my best friend and her boyfriend and we danced and danced and danced. It began to rain and some of the crowd cleared during the concert. It didn't worry us one bit. We danced in the rain, and it was wonderful.
Weeks pass and life starts to form again. We had still been staying with family until we got on our feet and found a home of our own. We moved into our studio and what felt like broken pieces in my mind, started to mend, slowly. We live in a terrace house near the city. Our home would have originally been the living and dining room. The old fireplace rests, sadly boarded up. My mind wanders to all the conversations had over so, so many years. My imagination runs wild. We have to start our home again. From owning everything we needed in our Brisbane home and leaving it all behind, the beginning began, again. It's a liberating feeling starting all over. The first night we slept on the floor in our very bare, furniture-less home. It was imaginably uncomfortable, but we finally had a home of our own. It didn't matter.
Life settled, and we took a trip the blue mountains. After going through the last couple of months, it took a toll, so the day in the mountains was nothing but bliss. The air was cool and thin. I stepped out of the car and took a deep breath. Raph was halfway through a sentence when I cut across with my disbelief of the quietness. Immediately my mind, my thoughts, my worries were gone. An indescribable peace came over me.
Soon it was the anniversary of my Nana's passing. Twelve years it has been. We met my family down at the beach she would swim at. My Nana and Pa would take me here as a little girl, to swim and collect buckets of sea shells. I stood at the edge of the rocky shore. We each threw a flower out to sea. I closed my eyes as I let go. Her face and voice played in my mind. The little things. How she would answer the phone. How she would bake vanilla cupcakes with me every time I visited. And then I thought of the times she was her very absent minded self. I laughed to myself and smiled as I watched the flower drift away.
Before I knew it, I was on a flight to Brisbane to complete exams and begin my free month of photoshoots. My dad was picking me up from the airport. As I get off the plane, I try countless times to turn my phone on, but it doesn't work. I couldn't tell him I had arrived. My thoughts started to run wild. How will he know I'm here? What if I'm stuck here overnight?! I didn't have any money except a $2 coin. I run to the pay-phone, but it rejects the call. I panic more and then I remember I have to collect my luggage. In a jittery mess I find the way to my luggage and spot another pay-phone. Please, please work. It works, but my dad doesn't answer. With a racing heart and stuttering sentences, I leave a message that made little to no sense. I hoped it was clear enough to know where to get me. With the best relief, I spotted his car in the distance and started waving my arms madly.
I stayed with dad and his partner just north of Brisbane for the week. It had been a long time since I had spent time with him. Each time before had always been rushed. I was so grateful to have that extra time.
Between exams I wandered around the city to search for lunch. I remembered that Bakery Lane had opened not long ago, so I made my way to check it out. I walked in, entranced by the beauty of the enchanted decorations in the little stores. In a daze, I'm woken by my name being called. My friend Christine is running down the lane, arms flailing wildly and throws them around me. I was so shocked and so, so happy to see her! She said our friend Brad was there too. I join them for a lunch of the most amazing brownies. (Don't judge. I did get an incredible pickled veggie wrap if you're worried). We caught up and spoke about our lives and suddenly we were discussing me coming along on their adventure throughout Tasmania next month. After exclaiming our excitement for the adventure ahead, I had to leave for my exam. I walked back down the lane with a giant grin on my face and all I could think was that I was meant to visit Bakery Lane that day.
At the end of the week I was completely exhausted. I had finished my exams and a bunch of photoshoots. Each night was filled with studying and editing until the early hours of the morning. One day nearing the end of the week, I sat in New Farm Park before a photoshoot. I arrived an hour earlier and I felt faint, I was so, so tired. The sun was warm, so I took off my shoes and thought about the last time I had done just that. I lay down beneath a rose bush, listening to the deep hum of the bees, feeling the suns warmth on my skin and drifted off to sleep.
The week passed like a whirlwind, but it felt long when I thought about Raph. Only a week, but it felt like more. We would speak everyday, but it wasn't the same.
I catch the train to stay with my mum on the Sunshine Coast. I hadn't seen her in almost half a year. The train passed through fruit tree orchards, strawberry and pineapple fields, past mountain ranges and thick Australian bush. I never tire of the scenery on that trip. She met me at the station and we began the drive home. We talked and caught up on each other's lives the whole way home. That night we went out to dinner with the people I would see every week when I lived there. They are like family to us. Day's passed and we did something different every day. One of the days we went out to a sustainable organic cafe. They grow an abundance of organic vegetables on a magical plot of land. I sat and admired a mother pointing out and teaching her young daughter the plants in the garden, while other children ran around in the yard. It made me think of when I will teach my children about the life of plants some day.
Two weeks passed and the next thing I knew, I was on a flight back to Sydney. I peered out into the darkness and tiny city lights began to appear. My heart began to quicken and I felt excited and nervous, thinking I was to see Raph so soon. It felt like being a young teenager again, falling into a fleeting, innocent love. It felt ridiculous, but at the same time exhilarating. And then I saw him at the opposite end of the path. We walked toward each other and my heart beat faster and faster. He held me, and I was home.